Objective: Breast cancer treatment has evolved to the modern skin-sparing mastectomy (SSM) and nipple-sparing mastectomy (NSM). To better perform these surgeries, minimally invasive techniques using the endoscope, or Da Vinci Robotic Surgery platform have been developed. The deep inferior epigastric perforator (DIEP) flap is the gold standard in breast reconstruction, but it is still not commonly performed after minimally invasive mastectomy due technical difficulty. Here we introduced six key steps to a successful aesthetic autologous free flap reconstruction in in minimally invasive mastectomies.
Methods: There are six main steps to our technique: placement of mastectomy incision, precise flap design after angiography studies, trial of shaping, transcutaneous medial suture, footprint recreation and post-operative shaping with bra. Between November 2018 and July 2022, a total of 67 immediate breast reconstructions using free perforator flaps were performed in 63 patients after minimally invasive NSM.
Results: The results from the minimally invasive mastectomy group were compared with a group of conventional mastectomy patients (n = 41) performed during the same period. There were no significant differences in flap exploration rates. 100% of the flaps survived. In the minimally invasive group, the final scar was placed in the lateral region, where it would be hidden from the anterior view. Only 70.7% of the conventional mastectomy group could achieve a hidden lateral scar ( P <0.001). The aesthetic revision rates were similar between two groups.
Conclusion: With attention to the six steps above, autologous free flap reconstruction can be offered reliably in the setting of minimally invasive mastectomy.